“Once an entrepreneur, always an entrepreneur,” says Monish Darda, the chief technology officer and co-founder of cloud-based contract lifecycle management provider Icertis. He built the tech company with chief executive officer Samir Bodas in 2009, at a time when they were both coming out of successful acquisitions – an act that shows their need to constantly innovate.

“As Samir says, as a fledgling startup, you either try to create a wave or ride a wave,” says Darda. “And at that time, the cloud wave was coming!” It was a period of transition, a foreseen movement of several enterprises shifting their assets to the cloud. For Darda and Bodas, that concept came into existence in Icertis.

Darda – who is a self-confessed tech junkie and is constantly hooked on gadgets that are paired with analytics – shares more about his company and its project that helped it earn The Peak Tech Laureates’ Artificial Intelligence (Established Enterprises) award.

Monish Darda, co-founder and CTO of Icertis.
Monish Darda, co-founder and CTO of Icertis.

Why did you choose to put Icertis’ focus on contract management?
Contract management happened because this was a space that had stagnated for decades, waiting for the cloud and a modern UX to appeal to business executives. The platform approach to contract lifecycle management (CLM) changed the game for our first customer, Microsoft. It then became a strong platform for enterprises as it was an end-to-end contract management in the cloud – we can claim that we helped redefine the CLM space.

Icertis Contract Management is a cloud-based platform that uses an intelligent workflow and built-in analytics to manage the entire lifecycle of contracts. Can you tell us more about how this solution can help businesses?
Icertis Contract Management cuts across many organisational boundaries. Contracts are everywhere – sell-side, buy-side, corporate, and cut across many silos. These include legal, IT, finance, sales, procurement, human resources – everything.

Depending on who the stakeholder is, the journey to understanding and realising the value of contract management can be very different. But three business outcomes stand out: accelerate, protect, and optimise. Acceleration of the contracting process leads to a more agile business, protection decreases risk in doing business and optimisation of business processes increases revenue and reduces cost. We help businesses understand how we can provide these outcomes in their business context.

The Icertis team.
The Icertis team.

Why is it vital to have an enterprise’s contract lifecycle management in the cloud?
Contract lifecycle management is the management of an organisation’s contracts from initiation through execution, performance and renewal or expiry. Think about it this way: When you pay your home electricity bill, you have contracted with the electricity provider on how and when you will consume electricity, how much you will pay, what will happen if you pay late and many other things, which are your obligations. Similarly, the electricity company has an obligation to provide you with electricity at a certain quality which you are entitled to. Contracts that organisations enter into with their suppliers, customers, employees and partners represent the rules of business!

We manage these contracts. We enable organisations to manage their rules of business, and prevent them from making costly mistakes because they did not fulfil their obligations or lose money when they forget their entitlements. Now, think about what happens when such an enterprise-wide system with millions of users is in the cloud. Integration with other systems becomes easier, self-service becomes easier, and organisations can focus on their business. These advantages allow people to manage their contracting processes remotely without missing a beat.

How do you see the cloud and artificial intelligence (AI) moving enterprises in the future – especially with the sudden shift to working remotely?
As the world struggles with the magnitude of the pandemic, it has become even more imperative for companies with global operations to get a deeper understanding of who they are doing business with and on what terms. Companies that have digitised their contracting processes and deployed an enterprise-wide, AI-infused, contract management platform have a single system of record to reference in order to analyse the contracts. With AI, digitised contracts can be analysed not only on a case-by-case basis but also at scale to quickly surface risks and provide a holistic view on contractual relationships in ways that are simply impossible via manual review.

Digital transformation has been on the agenda for almost all organisations around the globe. With computing and storage getting to a cloud scale and data mushrooming all round, AI has emerged as the technology to use this data to run the business more effectively. Coupled with technologies like blockchain, it is helping organisations around the globe understand their customers better and sell better. I think 2025 will be very different than what we have imagined it would be – I cannot wait!